The Talented Ribkins

He only came back because Melvin said he would kill him if he didn’t pay off his debt by the end of the week.

Now how to talk about this one. There’s a fantastical element in this story (several, if you consider all the individuals involved), but I definitely wouldn’t call it a story from the fantasy genre. Maybe more magic realistic? Anyway, these talents can come in quite handy, but brought ruin to almost every owner – every member of the Ribkins family.

The Ribkins are a black family, with one generation starting out as activists (during the Civil Rights Movement) but seeming to have ended up in crime. Each of their stories rub against historical facts, which makes the people with extraordinary powers trope so much more realistic, and keeps the focus on those people, instead of what they do with their powers.

This is combined with a playground (Florida) that somehow manages to make all of it more surreal and real at the same time. Of course the main character needs to dig up money he hid around the state, of course their last name has a wonderful background. Ladee Hubbard bakes all of it together, and it tastes strange, but good.

The Talented Ribkins, Ladee Hubbard, Melville House 2017

How To Keep Your Volkswagen Alive

That afternoon we held a birthday party for my son, the 1971 Volkswagen Beetle.

Everyone should read this. Even if your favourite book is Fifty Shades Freed and you think that 1984 is “pretty hard stuff”, I demand you stick your nose in this book and experience it. How To Keep Your Volkswagen Alive is a book that demands all attention from every sense, confuses them and leaves you with a big smile and aching heart.

What it is about? About a man who loses a father and becomes one. One who can kick-start his son by feeding him stories and who has a brother who fell in love with a state. And the state with him. This probably sounds pretty bizarre and out there. And it is, with trees that go for human hearts and that hide in transportable farms. At the same time, it’s an incredibly recognizable story about growing up, grieving and making the wrong decisions.

Boucher manages to keep every absurd detail under control in such a way that you’ll accept a lot. I laughed several times, but only because there was something funny, not because I thought it was something try hard weird.

Find it and read it.

How To Keep Your Volkswagen Alive, Christopher Boucher, Melville House Publishing 2011